If you\u2019re bewildered about Windows 8 and Microsoft's upcoming tablets, you\u2019re in great company.\n\tThere\u2019s mass confusion over Windows 8, Windows RT and which OS runs\u2014and doesn\u2019t run\u2014what applications. After I typed the term "Windows 8 confusion" (in quotes)\u00a0into Google, the search engine found more than 5,000 results. By comparison, I found\u00a0only 10 results for \u201cMac OS confusion.\u201d Not scientific research, I realize. But still, it paints a picture.\n\tWhy the confusion? Windows 8 will be available for tablets, tablet\/laptop convertibles, traditional laptops and desktops, and laptops and desktops with touchscreens. There is Windows 8 and its versions (such as Pro), and then there is Windows RT.\n\tChoice is usually great for consumers. But Windows 8 raises new questions that consumers didn\u2019t really have to ask before, such as what Windows 8 on a tablet does and doesn\u2019t do compared to Windows RT on a tablet. And Microsoft\u2019s website doesn\u2019t really help consumers figure out how to answer their questions. Some Microsoft Store reps don\u2019t even understand the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT,\u00a0according to\u00a0The Verge.\n\tSo here, in a nutshell, are three things tablet buyers need to know about Windows 8, Windows RT and Microsoft tablet apps.\n\t1. Windows 8 is Microsoft\u2019s update to Windows 7 with a brand-new, touchscreen-enabled look and feel modeled after the Windows Phone dynamic-tile-based interface. Windows 8 runs the countless Windows 7 and Vista desktop applications already in existence, as well as software developed specifically for Windows 8. Windows 8 also runs on a variety of devices, including compatible tablets, convertibles and touchscreen-enabled PCs.\n\t2. Windows RT is a separate operating system, though it too has a Windows Phone inspired dynamic-tile-based Start screen. Windows RT comes preinstalled on devices with ARM processors, most notably tablets. Think of Windows RT in the same category as Apple\u2019s iOS and Google\u2019s Android. Windows RT runs mobile device apps, which you\u2019ll be able to purchase from the Windows Store.\n\t3. Windows RT will have native Microsoft Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. You\u2019ll also get Internet Explorer\u2014but no Outlook. That\u2019s because Microsoft considers Outlook a business app, and the company is by default licensing the Office apps with Windows RT as home\/student versions only. Those Office editions are \u201cnot for use in commercial, nonprofit or revenue generation activities,\u201d according to a footnote on Microsoft\u2019s Surface with Windows RT store page. In fact, you can\u2019t use Windows RT with a Windows Active Directory subdomain. \u00a0\n\tUltimately, the choice boils down like this:\n\t* If you want a low-cost tablet (starting around $500) that runs tablet apps but also has full student\/home versions of Office but not Outlook, a Windows RT tablet is your choice. It\u2019s in essence a BYOD choice, like an iPad. Corporate types who, among other things, live in Outlook and sync it with Exchange servers will not be pleased, apparently, with a Windows RT tablet. (UPDATE: A reader noted, correctly, in the comments below that you'll still be able to sync with Exchange; you just can't do it with Outlook.)\n\t* If you need a professional-grade tablet capable of running any of your Windows desktop apps plus the Windows RT mobile apps, then a Windows 8-compatible tablet\u2014which will cost you more\u2014is probably the way to go.